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The RBC CASH Index, yet another barometer of nationwide consumer confidence, said that in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of America’s Gulf Coast, the confidence index dropped to 61.5 in early September, down from 72.6 in August and the lowest rating in this particular measurement since March 2003.

It also is a marke4d change from September 2004, when the index was at 103.4.

The study also measured consumers’ economic expectations – which came in at –13.5, the first time this rating has gone into negative numbers and a more than 40-point drop from the 32.2 expectations index in August 2005.
KC's View:
This study came out a week after Retail Forward’s monthly Future Spending Index suggested that the coming month should be a good one, with the index rising to 104.6 from 103.5 last month…a week after the Conference Board reported that its August consumer confidence index climbed to 105.6 this month from a revised 103.6 in July…and after the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index said that consumer confidence for August was at an 89.1 level, down from 96.5 for July and 96.0 for June, but above an 86.9 reading in May.

Meaning two things.

One is that the first week of September may be a real turning point in how consumers feel about the national economy and their own prospects, especially as they watched the disaster unfolding on the Gulf while paying outrageous sums to fill their gas tanks.

The other is that, as William Goldman once famously said about Hollywood, “Nobody knows anything.”

Stock trader Peter Lynch once said that “if all the economists in the world were laid end to end, it wouldn't be a bad thing.” On that note, we’ll let you fill in your own joke here.